Dead mountain quail...what could have caused this?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by laramie6, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. laramie6

    laramie6 Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a colony of 6 mountain quail and this evening when I went out to feed them I found one of the females laying on the ground dead. No visible wounds or obvious cause of death, just very rigid and flopped over on the ground with a few loose feathers laying around her. Given her location and position it doesn't seem likely that she flew into anything and broke her neck, plus the pen they're in is designed specifically to prevent that type of thing. Not sure how long she'd been dead for...typically I check on them two or three times a day but I was out of town last night and got back this evening so it had been a little over 24 hours since I'd last seen them...but they were all very much alive when I checked on them yesterday afternoon. The rest of the quail all look and seem fine for now.

    I did notice over the past few days that this one female seemed skinnier/smaller than the others and seemed to be running around/pacing more too, but I thought it was just my imagination. Yesterday I went into the pen and fed them all live mealworms just to make sure this one female was still eating, and she was...she gobbled them down just like the rest.
    I've had these birds for close to a year now without any health issues at all up until this. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened lately other than the fact that I fed them all mealworms yesterday which I only do every 3 or 4 weeks...but I wouldn't think that would be the cause of death. So what could have happened? And should I be worried about this happening to the rest of my mountain quail as well? I know this species can be especially prone to disease and infection but even if I knew there was an infection I'm not sure what I could do at this point...

    This is my first year with mountain quail so there are a few other things I'm wondering about too...

    Now that this female has died there are 3 males and 2 females left. I've heard that mountain quail will kill each other during breeding season if not paired up properly, and my males did fight during the first week or two of May but it was never anything serious and once they paired off the fighting stopped completely. But now that there are 3 males and only 2 females, what will that mean in terms of fighting/aggression between the remaining birds? Their breeding season is just about over now I believe, so do I have to worry about them fighting for the rest of the year during their "off-season"? What about next spring when their breeding season begins again? I wouldn't really want to remove one of the males because I wouldn't have any place for him and I don't know how well these birds do when living entirely on their own. I also don't think I could add in another female since I doubt I'd ever be able to find a single adult female for sale considering how long and difficult a process it was finding and buying the 3 pairs I have now.
    I know there aren't a lot of people who raise mountain quail so asking this is probably a shot in the dark, but if anyone does have any information, either on a possible cause of death or the male vs female ratio issue, it would be much appreciated. Thanks
     
  2. Fat Daddy

    Fat Daddy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Theres a gentleman that goes by londonbridges here on the forum. He raises mountains and seems to be very willing to help. Good luck with your birds and welcome to the forum. Bill
     
  3. JJMR794

    JJMR794 Overrun With Chickens

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    When Was The Last Time You Wormed Them?
     
  4. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    First off, welcome to BYC! The folks here are very knowledgeable on many topics for anyone keeping poulry, this is the place to be.

    I am sorry for your loss of the female Mountain Quail. There are so many diseases and genetic issues that can cause a bird to suddenly die. And being that some birds, not all, are great at hiding their illnesses, you can't always diagnose the situation unless you have a necropsy done.

    I wouldn't think mealworms would be the cause of death in any of your quail. So I would continue with that treat.

    I don't raise Mountain Quail, and the different species of quail all have different housing requirments, but as far as the fighting amongst the group, all I can tell you is to play it by ear everyday. Take each day at a time and try different situations should they begin to argue during breeding season. You may find that they do get along. If you have to separate one into a separate cage with in the run, then do so. I have had similar situations with my Bobwhites, even during the "off season" when they are supposed to be getting along and have had to cage a male occasionaly, or make a separate enclosure within the aviary. They don't like it, but it protects the rest of the group.

    Again, I am sorry and good luck with your Mountains, they sure are gorgeous birds! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2011
  5. laramie6

    laramie6 Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:When I was starting out last year I asked two other quail guys in the area about de-worming and they said they just feed their quail pumpkin once a year in the fall and that's all that's needed...they also suggested I avoid chemical deworming since it's more likely to cause problems than it is to cure them, as it's essentially feeding the birds poison. For that reason I gave them a small amount of pumpkin last October but after doing some google searching it seems that this is probably not adequate for quail raised on the ground...[​IMG]

    Quote:Yeah, I'm going to send the body out for a necropsy tomorrow morning and hopefully that will provide some definitive evidence on what happened. However, I was told that they may not have a chance to do the necropsy until next Tuesday and then there's an additional few days after that to get the results so I could be looking at 7 - 10 days before knowing anything and I'm concerned about the rest of my birds in the meantime.

    I raked out their pen last night so it's just bare, dry dirt and dust but when I came out to check on them again today I noticed that there were more loose feathers on the ground...big ones, too, like maybe wing or tail feathers (although I can't be sure, I'm not exactly an expert with these things), and there was a fair amount of them laying around the pen. I also noticed that three of the five birds looked at least a little scraggly; one appeared to be missing a small patch of feathers on his head, another had an odd-looking tail when compared to the others, and the other had what looked like some loose feathers on his belly. I watched them for a while and didn't see them fighting or picking at each other but I did notice they would lean their necks around and peck at themselves from time to time, usually under their wing, but I didn't see any of them actually pluck any feathers out, they just seemed to be nibbling at them. I checked online and found that mountain quail don't typically start molting until the end of July/beginning of August so I don't think that's the cause of the loose/missing feathers. Does this feather loss/pecking at themselves indicate anything specific that might be wrong or might have caused the other bird's death?

    Thanks again
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  6. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Feather mites, leg mites and other blood sucking mites can cause a lot of feather loss. Mites can drain the bird to the point of death over time. It wouldn't hurt to take Sevin dust or permethrin spray and dust/spray everthing down, birds included. Especially the dust bathing area and the areas that they sleep in.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  7. laramie6

    laramie6 Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Wouldn't that sort of insecticide hurt them? If they're already vulnerable or infected by something (other than mites) I wouldn't want to make them potentially weaker by spraying them with that sort of thing...
    Would mites show up in a necropsy? And if they would but no mites are found on the dead quail, can it be assumed that the other 5 birds that shared the pen are also mite-free?

    I have chickens in another pen not too far away as well as some other quails (coturnix and bobwhite) and I've seen practically no feather loss on the coturnix or bobwhites and only minimal feather loss on the chickens. Of my 14 chickens, only my two easter eggers are missing any feathers; it's the same place on both of them...a bunch of feathers around their necks (front and back) but the other 12 chickens aren't missing any feathers at all. I'm not sure why the two EE's are missing their neck feathers but I wouldn't think they would be the only two specifically targeted by mites. So I'm hoping there isn't a mite infestation, but even if there was, I've only been seeing the loose mountain quail feathers on the ground for a week or two now and the female that died only showed any symptoms in the 2 or 3 days prior to her death, so would that really be enough time for her to be killed solely by mites?
     
  8. FeatheredObsessions

    FeatheredObsessions Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2010
    Oregon
    She could have had the mites for weeks without any symptoms. Sevin dust is usually sold at 5% mix. If they are that infested with mites I would think an insesticide is all that would help quick enough to save their lives from the drainage of blood. Some mites come out at night. They hide in the cracks of the cage during the day. It would be important to get every crack you could find. Permethrin is used by some of the top breeders of quail twice a year. There really always seems to be a huge debate over using Sevin but many Vets recommend it in cases of infestations.

    First you probably need to access if it could be mites at all though?
     
  9. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Mites are very difficult to see. As as said in the above post, they tend to hide in the cracks of wood and such and come out at night to suck the blood of the bird. Also, birds are masters at hiding their illnesses as in the wild, they would make an easy target for predators, as preds can see weak birds. So if indeed you have mites in your pens, your birds might not show a single symptom until near death.

    Another thing about quail, they are really prone to mites. That is why they need to dust bath everyday to keep the mites under control. And while chemicals are never good to use on any bird, in this case if you do have a mite infestation, using this stuff can save their lives. So it is worth doing. Get down on your hands and knees and look very closely around their sleeping areas. Around any brush you have in the pen. Everywhere. They are very tiny red spider looking bugs. If you squish them, blood will come out. You can also sometimes tell if the birds have leg scale mites by looking at the scales on the legs and feet. If the scales are crusty and raised, then chances are they do have leg scale mites.

    If you don't see a single thing, then maybe the necropsy will tell you something. I hope this all irons out for you and your quail. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  10. FeatheredObsessions

    FeatheredObsessions Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2010
    Oregon
    If you look during the later day they might be white or clear cause they have digested the blood they drank. Somewhere I read that you can put baking flour lightly sprinkled around the edges of the cage and nesting area. They said where you have lightly dusted with the flour you can see little trails of the mites on their way back to the birds for dinner. I'm not sure how that works if the birds mess with the flour though
     

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